If you've ever considered total immersion therapy to overcome your fear of flying – or if you have no fear of flying at all, and want to experience the terror for the first time – have we got the perfect vacation spot for you. Lukla Airport, located over 9,000 feet up in the Himalayas, is so dangerous that airline passengers actually applaud every successful landing.
All photos by Associated Press/Niranjan Shrestha
The tiny airstrip was built by explorer Sir Edmond Hillary in 1965, twelve years after he became the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest. It's so small that even a slight miscalculation by the pilot would send the plane straight into the side of a mountain... which has happened a few times in the past decade.
Despite this constant fear of disaster, it's now one of the most heavily-used airports in Nepal, and visiting climbers often use it to avoid a long hike from Katmandu, carried on tiny planes like the one shown below... although this one is obviously not so flight-worthy. (No explanation was given as to how it ended up in this condition.)
In an interview for The Weather Channel, pilot Pramod Poudel recounts the dangers he and other flyers face daily departing from Lukla. “Because there is no way to go around again, we have to calculate many things like air speed, tail wind, and fog,” he explains. "If you don't do the proper calculation or proper exercise, then it happens." By “it,” he of course means a crash, which equals almost certain death.
Visit Weather.com for the full photo gallery. Happy Landings!